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H264 vs Sorenson3 vs FLV

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I'm currently re-designing my website and I've decided to include clips of some whole projects as well as just the showreel again.

 

I want the video to be accessible to people who commission design, but not just in the design + broadcast industries, so there's a fair chance some visitors will be on Windows machines. Unfortunately I don't have any previous stats. I don't use Windows much... does Vista come with Quicktime now?

 

My old site used Sorenson3 which was easy for me to do and fairly accessible.

 

h264 is a lot nicer though and I'm thinking of using that now, but it requires QT7 I believe.

 

Arguably FLV is the best guarantee of playback on unknown PC's (bar MPEG1), but I have no experience with encoding/embedding it, and I think H264 looks nicer.

 

Any opinions? And don't say Cinepak.

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im on a pc, of course i have qt but it´s just me, regular people out of mograph world maybe does not have quicktime.

i think the best decision is to make a flv (i´ve seen flv streaming really fast and with very good quality, use the flash video encoder to get fast results with little effort)

 

you can also put a link to download the movie in quicktime

the main reason i don´t like flv is that you can´t download the file and is a pain in the ass to scrub or watch the movie frame by frame

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the main reason i don´t like flv is that you can´t download the file and is a pain in the ass to scrub or watch the movie frame by frame

 

Yeah, I think thats a real issue... I think its why I instinctively dislike FLV, even though it can look good as you say. I associate it with 'streaming' a la youtube, and awkward navigation jumping to a nearest keyframe etc.

 

Security isn't really an issue for me, but neither is download-ability. Clever people can download flv's anyway, and stupid ones can't download quicktimes sometimes. I just want them to playback, with scrubbability, on the page.

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Guest Sao_Bento

Know your audience. If it's all designers who are likely to have QuickTime, use quicktime. If you expect a fair amount of business users, you might consider doing both and giving them the option.

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have you tried Using the new export for web may be an option, in the latest quicktime, it uses reference quicktimes and the actual video is encoded mpeg4 i believe they also give you all the code and how to use it all in a nice folder. Also it does not cause the color shift that h264 does, this process is supposed to result in faster load times and smaller videos and better quality

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Well the thing is, Vista does not come with quicktime, you have to install it. I know this because I just installed it on my girlfriends Vista Laptop last night.

 

Its funny because I have noticed some people really disliking FLV on this board...but its really not a bad format. You have to think of it in this way. Right now I believe the number was like 90% of internet users have flash installed. I know that many also have quicktime, but the percentage is far less. People like FLV...its quick, its easy, and it is customizable. You can change the player to look similar to your sites theme, you can have chapter points, that trigger events elsewhere in your site...the possibilities go on.

 

Now the beauty of all of this is that the newest Flash Player release supports h.264. So you dont have to actually export to FLV. In the past FLV used to have horrible quality when compared to quicktime. But now you can export a .mov with h.264 codec, and in your flv player load that MOV and it will play it, just as it would if it was a .flv . Except now you have the quality you were looking for with quicktime.

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I have to put my vote in for h264 the quality is awesome.

The trick with h264 is if you are using compressor 3 make sure you explore using frame controls .

By default they are turned off so make some custom and do lots of tests.

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Guest Sao_Bento
Well the thing is, Vista does not come with quicktime, you have to install it. I know this because I just installed it on my girlfriends Vista Laptop last night.

 

Its funny because I have noticed some people really disliking FLV on this board...but its really not a bad format. You have to think of it in this way. Right now I believe the number was like 90% of internet users have flash installed. I know that many also have quicktime, but the percentage is far less. People like FLV...its quick, its easy, and it is customizable. You can change the player to look similar to your sites theme, you can have chapter points, that trigger events elsewhere in your site...the possibilities go on.

 

Now the beauty of all of this is that the newest Flash Player release supports h.264. So you dont have to actually export to FLV. In the past FLV used to have horrible quality when compared to quicktime. But now you can export a .mov with h.264 codec, and in your flv player load that MOV and it will play it, just as it would if it was a .flv . Except now you have the quality you were looking for with quicktime.

You need to keep in mind that the people in this particular forum are probably interested in things the average user isn't. Primarily the aforementioned ability to step though something frame by frame. FLV doesn't do that by default - hence my earlier "know your audience" comment.

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i'm behind sorenson 3 all the way. h264 crushes my saturation values which is unacceptable.

 

i'm not sure who you plan on sending this reel to but i have yet to work at a shop that didn't have their producers on macs. now i'm sure pc lovin producers are out there but honestly, if you're working in the media industry and haven't installed quicktime on your pc then there is something wrong with you. i know qt 7 had problems on the windows side of things, which is yet another reason to use the solid-as-a-friggin-rock sorenson.

 

i was able to watch my reel at an internet café in laos, whut?!

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Sorenson 3, Jeez. In video compression technology (especially low bit rate distribution formats) 5 years is a whole geological era. It's really prehistoric. H264 can get at least twice the quality at half the data rate. The very makers of Sorenson 3 have moved to MPEG-4 /H264 encoding technologies.

Any hue or gamma shifts you're getting in H264 encoding are probably due to something else in the chain.

 

Until now, you had the choice of pristine quality (H264) or a massive compatibility (On2 VP6/Sorenson Spark in FLV).

Since now Flash embraced H264 as its' main video technology, the choice is pretty easy. Both Flash and Quicktime video are now H264. And it looks amazing. The only advantage older codecs (Sorenson 3, Spark, etc) could have is encoding time.

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have you tried Using the new export for web may be an option, in the latest quicktime, it uses reference quicktimes and the actual video is encoded mpeg4 i believe they also give you all the code and how to use it all in a nice folder. Also it does not cause the color shift that h264 does, this process is supposed to result in faster load times and smaller videos and better quality

Well, the export for web option makes an .m4v file encoded with h.264 so it can't be compatible with QT6 although there may be other advantages to this method, like the colour shift or what happens in a browser without quicktime...

But now you can export a .mov with h.264 codec, and in your flv player load that MOV and it will play it, just as it would if it was a .flv

But I don't think this makes the movie fully scrubbable, frame by frame? The rest of the site is not flash so I guess I'd have to work out how to make the playback controls... Do you have to know Flash to make one of those things? Or can you just embed some code like with Quicktime?

Know your audience. If it's all designers who are likely to have QuickTime, use quicktime. If you expect a fair amount of business users, you might consider doing both and giving them the option.

Yeah, I wish I had a slightly more compact audience but the reality is it could be design houses one week and some marketing & communications director the next, with a leaning towards the former. Giving 2 options is probably the ultimate solution, but it'll mean more work on the site AND figuring how to get the best out of Flash Video Encoder/Sorenson Squeeze etc. and make flv pages.

 

Maybe I'll go with a 'View Quicktime / View Flash Video" buttons linking to Sorenson3/FLV movies... Because I agree that Sorenson3 is solid, and I've done it before, and I bet a lot of the PC users with QT have version 6.

 

Any views on Spark vs VP6 in flv?? Eugh. Adobe Flash Encoder is horrible, I hate it already.

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Until now, you had the choice of pristine quality (H264) or a massive compatibility (On2 VP6/Sorenson Spark in FLV).

Since now Flash embraced H264 as its' main video technology, the choice is pretty easy. Both Flash and Quicktime video are now H264. And it looks amazing. The only advantage older codecs (Sorenson 3, Spark, etc) could have is encoding time.

 

Hmm. So if Flash has H264 as its main video technology, why is it not an option in Flash Video Encoder? You're just meant to encode in QT and then import it into Flash and then make your .swf? Please don't make me learn Flash...

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Hmm. So if Flash has H264 as its main video technology, why is it not an option in Flash Video Encoder? You're just meant to encode in QT and then import it into Flash and then make your .swf? Please don't make me learn Flash...

 

Why would you have to learn Flash? H264 is H264 is H264. It's not "Quicktime" or "Flash".

Both Quicktime and Flash have a custom way of storing H264 in proprietary Quicktime or Flash files, but a standard H264 file will play in either (for Flash player, you need the very last player update, since they just added this support).

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Why would you have to learn Flash? H264 is H264 is H264. It's not "Quicktime" or "Flash".

Both Quicktime and Flash have a custom way of storing H264 in proprietary Quicktime or Flash files, but a standard H264 file will play in either (for Flash player, you need the very last player update, since they just added this support).

Well, usually when I make encode a video as H264 it ends up wrapped in a Quicktime file, either .mov or .m4v, but to get those on a webpage I also use a bunch of code (HTML and a little Javascript) and a jpg as a poster frame so the movie doesn't start downloading until someone clicks 'it' (the jpg). The little bar which controls playback and volume is (I think) provided by the Quicktime engine on the host machine, not by anything on my server, and is called up by the code.

 

I know how to do this with Quicktime, but I assumed (please tell me I'm wrong) it was a little different with Flash, because I'd have to create a .swf with its own internal playback controls, in the Flash application, to enable frame-by-frame control for the end user.

 

After a couple of hours of research, I came across this amazing HD FLV, encoded using FFMPEG and a bash script in terminal. Sites like Vimeo have some lovely flv's too, but I have yet to come across an H264 flv with cursor>frame step control.

 

I also downloaded updates to Flash 9.0.3 but still no h264 option in Flash Video Encoder. It seems that h.264 in flv is all very cutting-edge, and I still have no idea how to get one either made, or embedded in a webpage.

Edited by Steven Kirby

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Well, usually when I make encode a video as H264 it ends up wrapped in a Quicktime file, either .mov or .m4v, but to get those on a webpage I also use a bunch of code (HTML and a little Javascript) and a jpg as a poster frame so the movie doesn't start downloading until someone clicks 'it' (the jpg). The little bar which controls playback and volume is (I think) provided by the Quicktime engine on the host machine, not by anything on my server, and is called up by the code.

 

I know how to do this with Quicktime, but I assumed (please tell me I'm wrong) it was a little different with Flash, because I'd have to create a .swf with its own internal playback controls, in the Flash application.

 

M4V is not Quicktime. It's standards-based MPEG-4 video, in this case using the advanced flavor (H264).

You don't have to create a SWF file at all.

Quicktime has been so far the most widespread player for this kind of video file (given that everyone with iTunes or an iPod has Quicktime in their computer, plus the video and design communities of course), but I really suggest you are compliant with a technology that has about 98 per cent slice of the multimedia player base. It's not about preferring one over the other (Quicktime playback may be more robust in my limited knowledge), but about not leaving anybody out now that you don't have to choose between quality and a wide user base.

 

I have not investigated what it takes to embed H264 video (without the proprietary Quicktime of Flash extensions) so that it plays in either depending on which one you have. I suppose it doesn't take anything, or a code snippet to check if you have the right version of the Flash and/or Quicktime players.

 

Finally, it's important to note that Flash only got H264 support for a couple of months now. And it came in a little update that wasn't publicized enough. I wouldn't count on users having the right version player for at least 6-12 months.

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Also it does not cause the color shift that h264 does, this process is supposed to result in faster load times and smaller videos and better quality

I don't think that's true. Just tried it now, and there was a vast difference in gamma between the original and the H.264 file. Unless the color shift issue is something else?

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Know your audience. If it's all designers who are likely to have QuickTime, use quicktime. If you expect a fair amount of business users, you might consider doing both and giving them the option.

 

Totally agreed. QuickTime H264 and FLV for the win!

 

With FLV PC and MAC users will be able to see it...with QTH264 people with QT will be able to see it, and it has better quality at the same bitrates so...

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Totally agreed. QuickTime H264 and FLV for the win!

 

With FLV PC and MAC users will be able to see it...with QTH264 people with QT will be able to see it, and it has better quality at the same bitrates so...

Yes that is the conclusion I am coming to, although quite how to get a .flv to use the h264 codec on a mac is still eluding me. Sorenson Squeeze 4.8 perhaps... Although according to this (not exactly democratic data) only 12% of visitors had Flash Player 9(h264), compared to 99% with Flash 7(Spark). Kind of makes you wonder about v.8(vp6)... BUT, not much point in using h264 for the 'accessible' option if only 12% can see it, like Adolfo says - too cutting edge at this time. Now I just need to figure out the stats for Flash Player 8 installed base and decide between Spark or vp6. Then get the optimum settings, then do the same with QT-h264.

Edited by Steven Kirby

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I successfully rendered a movie into h.264 with after effects cs3 and it is fully playable with a flash video player.

Made up a webpage for a client review in 20 minutes using this example and modified it a little, like size to fit to my source video. H.264 is surely playable without quicktime through the newest flash player 9 build.

 

Here keyframes are discussed. Maybe getting the keyframes up makes it much better scrubbable.

 

A simple chooser for the player would be easy to implement - a detection with javascript to look for an installed quicktime would be best, but where to get?

Edited by Tomber

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H.264 is surely playable without quicktime through the newest flash player 9 build.

This is what I'd like to know, although I'm settled on using something FP7 compatible now to cover all bases, and a QT for the up-to-date.

 

When you say you successfully exported an H264, I presume you mean a Quicktime .mov using h264. AE CS3 does not export .flv using h264. If you embed a QT h264 file inside a .swf, will it play back without Quicktime on the local machine?... If anybody without QT but with the latest Flash Player is reading this, please check hereand let us know if both movies play... The h264 one certainly doesn't play unless you have the very latest version of flash player. And interestingly, the same .mov file seems to be getting antialiased or smoothed in QT more than via the swf.

pic2.png

pic3.png

Edited by Steven Kirby

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Guys: One general rule here is that a content creation application (like AE) will never be good at interframe encoding like H264 and most distribution formats require. A content creation app, if it is any good, it's trying to produce the best possible frame at the current time, not compare frames across time for optimization purposes.

I really recommend you export an uncompressed or lossless Quicktime file and feed that to a dedicated encoding solution, like Sorenson Squeeze, Apple Compressor or Adobe Media Encoder (invoked from PPro, not AE, since in that case it is able to perorm 2 pass VBR encoding).

 

So if Flash has H264 as its main video technology, why is it not an option in Flash Video Encoder?

The Flash video encoder is older than the player version that supports H264.

 

Yes that is the conclusion I am coming to, although quite how to get a .flv to use the h264 codec on a mac is still eluding me.

 

You don't need a FLV file at all. You want a standard H264 file with M4V extension. You can do that with almost any encoding application out there.

 

I just read an article stating that iTunes was the #2 retailer of music. (behind Walmart) Thanks to bundling iTunes with QT, a lot more people have QT on their computers.

 

Interestingly, they are selling H264 video and AAC audio, neither of which is "Quicktime" (except the DRM part). It just happens to be the most widespread H264 player so far.

 

Of course, Apple/Quicktime has enormous merit in being the first mass adopter of MPEG-4 and H264. And moving away from proprietary and old technologies like Sorenson 3 to H264 shows that they... It's Apple, what am I going to discover? :)

Edited by Adolfo Rozenfeld

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I just read an article stating that iTunes was the #2 retailer of music. (behind Walmart) Thanks to bundling iTunes with QT, a lot more people have QT on their computers.

 

on the other hand, i hate that stupid bundle, i don´t want itunes to play my mp3 and taking the same system resources that ai cs3.......ok yes, coverflow is hot anyway

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